After two long days without any action, the Euro 2020 round of 16 gets underway and this is undoubtedly where we will start to see the best of the big guns, some of which have looked a bit reserved or off the pace so far.
This is where they cannot afford to be below par and they will need to produce their best while also being resilient to progress through the gruelling knockout stages. Here is what to look forward to on Saturday in the first set of fixtures for the round of 16.
Wales v Denmark (BBC One, 17:00)
Both these sides have come into the knockout stages as underdogs but they have both performed excellently, Wales especially, to get here. After everything that Euro 2016 brought them there were question marks on could they achieve something like that again. After a lucky escape in their first game against Switzerland where they rescued a point, Robert Page’s side put in a fine display as they cruised past Turkey in matchday two with a 2-0 victory.
We saw the link-up between captain Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey back at its best but the desire for each player wearing the red dragon to play for each other stood out more than the individual quality the likes of Bale and Ramsey have. They have performed well in foreign territory so playing in Amsterdam will not faze them but they will be facing a Denmark side coming off the back of a very positive and free-scoring performance.
Denmark will face a tough test against Wales and they will need to be wary of the cutting passes Bale can make to split the defence and find the perfectly-timed runs of Ramsey. After everything they experienced in the first game with Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest, they have shown great heart, especially with that 4-1 win over Russia which saw them book their place in the last 16. They will be looking to the creativity of the young starlet Mikkel Damsgaard to spark their offensive play but he will have a tough time against the Welsh backline who have been mostly resolute in the group stage.
This should be a thrilling encounter.
Italy v Austria (BBC One, 20:00)
Italy have been sensational to watch so far in this tournament. They are well-drilled, they attack with such intensity and their fitness levels are simply incredible. The fact that full-back Leonardo Spinazzola covers as well as being a main attacking outlet for the Azzuri is testament to the transformation this side has undergone thanks to Roberto Mancini.
The side is well-balanced and they have been playing some magnificent football as they look like the team to beat at Euro 2020. They are already putting to bed the shame of missing out on the World Cup three years ago and the revolution the Azzurri has gone under is remarkable. Italy are a real force and there seems to be such a cohesion between the manager and all the squad which, with the undoubted quality they have on the field, could take them all the way.
Austria performed well to qualify for the knockout stages (the first time in a major tournament for 39 years) but they will need to be switched on when facing Italy as they will have seen the way they like to attack down the channels and work their way inside. They may be drawn into sitting back and hoping for a solid defensive performance but they cannot afford to show their opponents too much respect. They should look to push captain David Alaba back on to the left side of midfield to give Austria a chance in what will be a tough midfield battle, as he impressed when freed up against Ukraine.